By Chace Saumell

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a writer, I have a very interesting relationship with words.

Honestly, this is the hardest article I have ever had to write.

The relationship I have with words seems to be failing me, because I can’t find the right words to accurately express what I’m going through.

To me words are not just letters strung together to make a sound and carry a definition.

Words to me are forces in the universe. And some of them are more powerful than others.

Word’s like “Love”,” Hate”, “Life”, “Light”, “Dark” “Forgiveness” and “Bitterness” are words that are powerful.

We as people get to decide which words win the battle everyday.

So many people, me included, use so many words without any thought to have powerful they really are.

Hope is one of the most powerful words I know. Despair is also a very powerful word that is always warring against our hope.

The funny thing about the definition of “Hope” is that Hope can be used as a verb and a noun.

Hope can be a thing and Hope can be an action, Hope can be a feeling.

Most people use the word Hope flippantly. I hope it rains. I hope you are doing well.

No one ever really thinks about what Hope is until you are in despair.

Despair is the absence of Hope.

I spend a lot of my time with Hope, in Hope, Hoping.

But every now and then I can honestly say, like everyone else on the planet, I have been Hope-less. I have been in despair.

The human psyche is an amazing and complex animal. We can take a lot of trauma, emotional, mental, and physical beat downs.  Then all of a sudden a seemingly minor thing comes along and removes all Hope from our hearts and plunges us into despair.

All of a sudden you realize that you have no Hope left. You are tired of Hoping because it seems like an exercise in futility and you don’t know when you’ll ever get that back into your heart.

In a fight, you start out with a great deal of Hope. You work yourself up in the Hope that you are going to compete well, in the Hope that you are going to win. In the months leading up to the fight you operate in a measure of Hopefulness. You train hard, you beat your body, and you work hard in training in the Hope that no matter what your competition throws at you, it won’t be harder than your training.

Recently, due to a lot of issues that I was having and ignoring because that’s how I operate. I was plummeted from the highest of Hopes to the depths of despair.

Battle-Damaged Chace

I got injured. Bad. Right before a tournament that I had been training for, for almost a year.

I’m going to have to have surgery to recover.

When the doctor told me a 6 month recovery time before I could get back to competing, I’m ashamed to say I broke down a little. Not outwardly, but on the inside I felt like I was up against an opponent that I didn’t quite train hard enough to beat.

But that was nothing compared to the mental beat down that I was giving myself.

My body is rebelling against the toughness of my mind and I don’t quite know how to control it.

Now to most people this injury is a seemingly minor thing. But to me, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I had lost a co-worker that week to a very surprising heart attack. My heart was heavy for his children and his beautiful wife not to mention the grief that we all felt at work. I was having money issues and was facing the potential of losing my house and uprooting my children, and this, this injury and the hospital and the bills is the last thing I wanted to deal with.

Training and the looking forward to the competition, is the only thing that keeps me sane.

And now that has been taken from me.

Now even going to training and doing what I can while watching everyone else get better and work hard and learn things that I should be practicing breaks my heart more and more. It hurts, like watching the love of your life going out with someone else.

Plus, I have a very weird mental issue with my weight. I know it’s dumb, but I can’t help the way I feel and it’s VERY real to me. I’ve never really had much control of anything in my life and this is the one thing that I can honestly say I do control and now even that has been taken from me to an extent because I can’t work out as hard as I usually do.

In the grand scheme of things, this seems like a very silly thing to make me lose Hope. But it did.

So for about a week, I cried and despaired and thought, of all the things that were going wrong in my life and I felt utterly miserable.

I tried to cover it up. I didn’t do a very good job. But I did try to put on a smile and keep going.

Then I started doing this thing where I was convincing myself that this pain and the fact that I could hardly stand on my right leg was all in my head and that I was being a baby. It was feeling way better than it had been feeling so maybe I should do some exercise.

So I went for a run.

And that ended up being an epic mistake born out of my pig headed stupidity.

So here I was, trying to hold on to Hope, only to keep having Despair stomp on my face repeatedly.

Despair is another one of those powerful words.

Despair is something you have to do battle with everyday when it seems like everything in your life is going wrong.

Despair is like hate, or bitterness. If you let it, it will take root in you and make you a worthless individual.

I’m determined that even if I don’t feel like it, the fighting spirit within me will overcome the sense of despair I feel in my heart.

hope is closer

I’m not going to let it take root within me.

I’m going to find at least one thing everyday that I can hold on to that gives me Hope.

In the battle of life I choose to make Hope greater than Despair.

That which does not kill me, better start running.

– Chace


Written by The Sundown United

The SUNDOWN UNITED is a multi-faceted project that houses an apparel and accessories brand, and online-magazine(weblogs/articles). All ends of and begins with the Sundown United our trademark, lifestyle, attitude, and personal perspective on Americana art/lifestyle subculture.


  1. Hi Chace,

    I cannot tell you how sorry I am to hear about your injury. I had an ACL reconstruction 2 weeks ago, today, to make right an injury that I sustained at the end of ’08 (total rupture, tried to get round it with physio, couldn’t compete or train fully so second opinion -> surgery). I remember the first week or so after I got hurt, which was right after a great comp, I was feeling super strong and just got my blue belt, I laid in bed with ice on my leg and cried like a baby, because my heart was breaking. First off, don’t beat yourself up for feeling some grief, let it happen and then move forward. It is silly, it hurts in so many ways. But! It. Does. Get. Better. Promise.

    An operation is not the worst outcome as not having it can mess with your ability to train to full capacity, though it is possible to develop your game significantly when training around a injury, it isn’t possible to compete or train as much as you might like. Once you’re on the other side of the rehab, though, you *will* be able to compete and you *will* be able to train to full capacity, but you’ve got to love yourself enough, right now, to listen to your body, do only what your body awareness tells you is acceptable, commit to your rehab work and keep fighting the long fight through this part of your journey. I’m not saying it doesn’t suck, big time, but focussing on what you can’t do makes it worse. Take that stubbornness and but a laser with your focus on what you can do 😉 Love all the little victories in healing and rehab you make as you work the process back to full health makes it much more bearable. You know how you celebrate all the little steps forward you make as you progress in BJJ, you know how the ‘little wins’ seem huge because BJJ is so challenging? Same kinda deal. Just like you say: ‘I’m going to find at least one thing everyday that I can hold on to that gives me Hope.’ This is a solid, solid plan!

    If you ever want to chat about any of this stuff please feel free to email me. You might also like to check out my blog series chronically my knee injuries and recovery | Might help, might not. The aim is to give a solid account of one person’s recovery which can be reassuring, I hope, but of course everyone’s experience is different. Keep your chin up and remember, even if you’re not tearing it up on the mats, you’re still a super woman – being disciplined and taking care of yourself when you’re recovering isn’t easy and takes more toughness than when you’re fit. Best wishes for a solid recovery.



    1. Meg,
      Thank you so much for you kind words.
      You have no idea how much I needed to hear that today. It’s nice to hear from someone who has passion for BJJ and knows what its like to not be able to compete.
      I will definitely check out your blog!
      Add me on facebook too if you’d like!
      Thanks so much!!


      1. My pleasure, Chace, I’m glad an outside perspective was helpful to you (when I go into a spiral that defo helps me!). I hope the leg is feeling better today and you’re carving a path forward to full fitness. Take good, good care of yourself.

        Meg x


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